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Book news: Salman Rushdie, tattoos, and Thomas Mann on Hollywood

January 25, 2012 |  8:30 am

Salman Rushdie stayed away from the Jaipur Literature Festival because of death threats. A few authors read from his book "The Satanic Verses" in protest, and were swiftly encouraged to leave the country. Then it turned out that the threats were fake. If from afar, this begins to seem like much ado about nothing, up close the story is very different. "Debate over Rushdie's attendance at the festival even eclipsed an appearance by Oprah Winfrey, with its own minor controversy and major star power," Mark Magnier reports from Jaipur, India. "Some saw India's electoral politics as the real reason for the controversy over Rushdie's potential appearance at the festival. India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh is weeks away from holding closely watched state elections. Muslims there are swing voters, and the head of an influential Islamic seminary in that state had termed Rushdie's plans to appear at the festival as offensive to Muslims."

Under new ownership, Washington's landmark independent bookstore Politics and Prose is flourishing. Lissa Muscatine and Bradley Graham took it over after the 2010 death of co-founder Carla Cohen. "Most heartening," they tell The Atlantic, "is that the store continues to flourish even amid the uncertainties of the book industry."

Do you have a literary tattoo? Have you ever seen anyone else with it? It's kind of like wearing the same dress to a party. (It's happened to me; I know.) Publishers Weekly's blog PWxyz has a list of the five most popular books to inspire literary tattoos, complete with collages of the tattoos themselves. Check to see if yours is among them.

Los Angeles poet and Whiting Award winner Douglas Kearney will be reading Saturday at Machine Project, one of L.A.'s most daft and brilliant gallery-type places. The event/performance is called Shuffle Stagger Fail, and it celebrates the launch of his new chapbook, "SkinMag."

Her bestsellers included "Hollywood Wives," "Lucky," "Drop Dead Beautiful," "Sinners" and "Hollywood Divorces." Is that a cougar on author Jackie Collins' letterhead?

Thomas Mann, author of "Death in Venice" and "The Magic Mountain," left Fascist Germany and by 1940 had made his way to Los Angeles. "The climate has great advantages," he wrote, "as does the countryside, living expenses are relatively cheap, and, in particular, the opportunities for our young musician-children are promising." That's from KCET's website, which has a special section on L.A. history. Mann later wrote his son, "We were just at Princeton and it is very pretty. But I am a bit afraid of the scholarly atmosphere, and I basically prefer the movie rabble in Hollywood."


2010: Salman Rushdie comes to L.A.

Douglas Kearney says winning Whiting Writers Award is a fresh start

Jackie Collins: Nothing's shocking

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Indian writer Anni Zaidi, left, asks a visitor to the Jaipur Literature Festival on Monday to sign a petition calling for reconsideration of the nationwide ban on Salman Rushdie's book "The Satanic Verses." Credit: Manish Swarup / Associated Press